Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is one of my favorite perennial herbs to grow from seed. These plants are loaded with purple, nectar-rich flowers, beginning mid-summer. Hyssop makes a beautiful feature in any garden and is stunning when mass planted. The hyssop plants in our gardens and meadows are always buzzing with bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
This hardy perennial herb is native to the U.S. Hyssop is drought tolerant and grows on woody stems that are loaded with long leafy spikes and filled with tiny flowers.
Hyssop has a sweet scent, with leaves that have a warm, slightly bitter taste. Use the leaves and some honey from your local beekeeper to make tea.
I start my hyssop seeds indoors, 6 weeks before my average last frost date. (May 15 -zone 5b)
Bloom Color: Lavender-Blue
Bloom Time: Summer
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
As garden catalogs continue to fill your mailbox, make sure you add hyssop to your wish list!
Note: All of my hyssop seeds come from Botanical Interests
Happy Seed Starting!
My name is Roda. I am the owner of Indigo Acres Apiary in Rockford, Michigan. I was born a nature girl. I spent my childhood exploring the woods, catching critters, and gardening with my dad. Even then, I was easily distracted by bees, butterflies, and blooms. I would spend hours with my little Kodak camera trying to capture nature from behind the lens.
As an adult, I knew I wanted to make a difference. I became a teacher and spent over 20 years in the world of elementary education. But, I still had a dream. I closed the door on my career and opened a new door. I was determined to spend my days outside, in my gardens, chasing bees with my camera.
Indigo Acres was established in 2014. We began to transform our 13 acres into what we like to call our “staycation”. We built a barn and expanded our gardens. Our family began to grow with lots of furry and feathered friends. But, there was one very special edition that still needed to happen… My sweet bees. After years of research, I finally felt prepared to begin my beekeeping adventure!
For the past 6 years, I have spent my days living my dreams. I talk to the animals, dig in the dirt, and dance with the bees. Our apiary continues to grow each year, as our gardens and meadows expand. I feel it is my duty, as a beekeeper, to provide chemical free forage and soil for all pollinators.
As of spring 2020, I will be the proud mama of 25+ colonies, and our apiary is still growing! When I am not tending to the bees and gardens, I enjoy inspiring others through our summer Hive Tours and Bee Camp for Kids.
My advice…Live your best life! Follow your heart and make your dream a reality. 💚 Roda
Planting a pollinator garden is a wonderful gift for the bees. Considering they pollinate 1/3 of the food we eat, planting bee friendly flowers is the least we can do to give back. If you are wondering where to start and what to plant, borage is always on the top of my list!
Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb that is loved by bees and other beneficial insects for its pale, runny nectar. These beautiful flowers are abundant from late spring to late fall, making it a perfect choice to support the bees during a late summer nectar dearth. Borage is one of the last flowers blooming in our pollinator gardens, when the fall frost begins to arrive.
This annual herb grows easily from seed. There is no need to start borage indoors. Sow it directly outdoors, 1-2 weeks before your average last frost date. Borage self-seeds prolifically, so make sure you plant it where you really want it!
Borage has many human benefits as well:
•The edible flowers can be used to decorate cakes, candies and summer salads.
•Freeze the flowers in ice cubes to add to summer drinks.
•Cook young borage leaves and stems to add to soups and salads. (Borage has a cucumber-like taste.)
•Use the leaves for an herbal tea.
Bloom Color: Mainly blue, but pink may be observed.
Bloom Time: June-September
Light: Full sun to part shade
Note: I purchase all of my borage seeds from Botanical Interests.
Our motto is simple: “Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!”
Happy planting! Roda
As spring arrives, I become more and more excited to begin hive inspections. As much as I enjoy inspections, I want to make sure I am not opening a hive just to say “hello” to my sweet ladies. Before I inspect a hive, I make sure I have a purpose for the inspection.
•Is the colony showing signs of swarming?
•Does the colony have enough honey and pollen stores?
•Is there a queen present?
•Is it time for their monthly mite check?
Note: My goal is to have each hive open no longer than 10-15 minutes. As long as I see eggs, I know the queen has been present over the past few days.
Keeping detailed notes during each hive inspection, allows me to have a plan of action for future inspections. If I am just checking for pollen and honey stores, there is no reason to disrupt the entire brood nest. On the other hand, if I am checking on the status of my queen, once I find a frame filled with eggs, I am set.
Before I begin my inspections, I check my previous notes and make sure I have a purpose for opening the hive. Through consistent observation and detailed record keeping, many colony issues can be avoided.
Think ahead and expect the unexpected! ~Roda
For more about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page!
Pollen is a protein food source for the bees. This powdery substance is collected from flowers, by the forager bees, and brought back to the hive and stored in cells. Pollen is then used to make bee bread, (a mixture of honey and pollen) as well as royal jelly. Pollen is also the main source of amino acids in the honey bee diet. Bees collect a variety of pollen types to be healthy, just as we humans consume a variety of foods.
Pollen color varies, from plant to plant. For example, these are some of the pollen sources/colors that bloom in our gardens and meadows:
Throughout the season, the ladies store a serious amount of pollen for the winter. This makes my heart so happy. As a beekeeper, I feel it is my job to provide pollinator friendly flowers, shrubs and trees for my sweet bees. When people ask me how many colonies I would ultimately like to have, my answer is, “As many as our 13 acres can support.” Would I love 100 colonies? Yes! But, I feel it is important to have balance.
When I committed to becoming a beekeeper, I committed to providing for not only my honey bees, but for my local pollinators. Expanding Indigo Acres Apiary also means expanding our pollinator gardens/meadows. I would love to be able to count on the forage that is within 2 miles of our home, but I just can’t. By providing chemical free forage, I know our ladies are healthy and safe. Maybe I am an overprotective bee mama, but I like to encourage my sweet bees to remain close to home.
As you are planning for your spring garden, keep in mind that planting a variety of pollinator friendly plants is most beneficial. Although sunflowers are a wonderful choice, adding sunflowers, borage, and hyssop provide not only pollen variety, but blooms that will support your local pollinators throughout the seasons.
Our motto here at Indigo Acres Apiary is simple: “Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!”
Let’s Bee Inspired! Roda
For more information about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us Page!
As much as I love to talk about my sweet bees, today I want to share how you can help your local butterflies by planting a larval host garden.
When people share with me what they are planting for their local pollinators, one of the first plants listed is the butterfly bush (buddleia davidii). Although this plant is beautiful and a wonderful nectar source, it is considered invasive in many areas.
If you choose to plant a butterfly bush in your garden, I highly recommend planting it in a container. You can also purchase a sterile cultivator. These plants produce a minimal amount of seeds compared to the non-sterile varieties.
More importantly, the butterfly bush is NOT a larval host plant. Insects require a host plant for reproduction. The butterfly offspring needs to be able to feed on the leaves of native species for survival.
Host Plant Recommendations:
Here are just a few wonderful host plants that you can add to your gardens for the butterflies:
Note: If you are looking to bring monarchs to your backyard gardens, plant a variety of milkweeds. Milkweed is the ONLY host plant for the monarch butterfly.
💚 Note: I purchase my milkweed seeds from Botanical Interests
Spring is just around the corner!
It is never too early to start planning for this year’s gardening season.
If you have a passion for butterflies, check out our Monarch note card set in our online shop!
Here in West Michigan, our leaves are changing and there is definitely a chill in the air. Hello, October! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was saying “hello” to our sweet honey bees, after a long and challenging winter. Time sure flies when you are doing what you love!
Here are a few highlights from our 2019 beekeeping season…
THANK YOU to everyone that supported Indigo Acres Apiary this season!
We can’t wait to share our passion with you in 2020!
Plant a Flower, Save a Bee
Hive Share orders are officially open! There are many benefits to purchasing a share, of one of our beehives:
Visit our “Honey” page for more details!
One of the unique elements, at Indigo Acres Apiary, is our brightly painted beehives! There is nothing like a field of wildflowers or a manicured pollinator garden, filled with artistic beehives, to spread the joy of nature…
Are you looking for an exciting West Michigan adventure, this summer? Visit Indigo Acres Apiary and sign up for one of our Hive Tours or Beekeeping Sessions. We can’t wait to share our amazing honeybees with you!
Here in Michigan, Spring has sprung! We are excited to report that we have been able to complete our first comprehensive inspections, on all of our hives! We overwintered 100% of our hives and our mite tests were clear. This is a fabulous way to kick off the beekeeping season! As you can see, I am feeling a bit excited!
With temperatures in the 50s, the ladies have been able to do some early foraging. Red and silver maple trees are a wonderful source of pollen for the bees, as long as the Spring temperatures are warm enough for the ladies to leave the hive. I am happy to share that they have been wearing their pollen pants, filled with beautiful yellow maple pollen!
Temperatures are going to drop, over the next few days, with some snow and freezing rain coming our way. Welcome to West Michigan! As we anxiously await warm weather, we are continuing to prepare for our expansion of 12 new hives. Our poly tunnels are bursting with blooms and our 2500+ seedlings are growing stronger each day. We are ready to kick off this beekeeping season, in full force. Come on Mother Nature…help us out just a bit!